The Homestead City Council gave the final thumbs up to the city’s budget and property tax rate days ahead of the start of the new budget year.
Council members on Sept. 23 approved a budget that would add $150,000 to the city’s general fund to cover legislative trips and economic-development conferences, as well as feasibility studies, including one for a possible water park.
Several council members supported studying possible recreational uses for the city’s lakes, including one behind the Homestead Sports Complex. Councilwoman Judy Waldman said in an interview she was currently traveling the state to take a look at how other municipalities have turned big lakes into spaces for recreation.
“Some have pedal boats and canoes, and it would be great to bring some of that to Homestead,” Waldman said.
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The council approved a tax rate of $6.93 per $1,000 in taxable home value. That includes $1.01 to repay debts for a new police station and renovations to the Seminole Theater.
Councilman Jon Burgess voted no on the budget after proposing that the travel expenses be moved to the council’s budget instead of the manager’s budget, and that the city not pursue the water park study. The council did not support the motion.
In other business, Vice Mayor Stephen Shelley requested that city staff compile a report on the Keys Gate golf course after a representative of homeowners surrounding the course asked the council to explore their options in stopping a developer who wants to build new homes where the gold course now sits.
William Thibault said he and his neighbors feel “anxiety,” “stress,” and “anger.”
“We paid premium values for being next to the golf course,” Thibault said. “This would affect our quality of life and property value.”
The council also unanimously approved a ban on puppy mills, introduced by councilman Burgess. Homestead is one of dozens of municipalities in the state to approve the measure, which would stop pet stores from selling commercially bred dogs and cats not reared on the premises. The goal is to curb the mass production of pets in “puppy mills” and “kitten factories.”
Burgess added that Homestead has become a “dump” for unwanted pets.
“Hopefully passing these types of ordinances would provide some relief for communities affected by this,” he said.
According to city staff, the ban would not affect any businesses currently operating in Homestead.